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Voting on the Budget Deficit


  • Guido Tabellini


  • Alberto Alesina

    (Harvard University)


This paper analyzes a model in which different rational individuals vote over the composition and time profile of public spending. Potential disagreement between current and future majorities generates instability in the social choice function that aggregates individual preferences. In equilibrium a majority of the voters may favor a budget deficit. The size of the deficit under majority rule tends to be larger, the greater is the polarization between current and potential future majorities. The paper also shows that the ex ante efficient equilibrium of this model involves a balanced budget. A balanced budget amendment, however, is not durable under majority rule.
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  • Guido Tabellini & Alberto Alesina, 1988. "Voting on the Budget Deficit," UCLA Economics Working Papers 539, UCLA Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cla:uclawp:539

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Yaari, Menahem E, 1987. "The Dual Theory of Choice under Risk," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(1), pages 95-115, January.
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    6. Segal, Uzi, 1987. "Some remarks on Quiggin's anticipated utility," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 145-154, March.
    7. Machina, Mark J, 1982. ""Expected Utility" Analysis without the Independence Axiom," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(2), pages 277-323, March.
    8. Truman F. Bewley, 1986. "Knightian Decision Theory: Part 1," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 807, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    9. Turnovsky, Stephen J & Shalit, Haim & Schmitz, Andrew, 1980. "Consumer's Surplus, Price Instability, and Consumer Welfare," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 135-152, January.
    10. Raviv, Artur, 1979. "The Design of an Optimal Insurance Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 69(1), pages 84-96, March.
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